Propaganda for Patriotism

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Documentary is a unique form of expression, one that aims towards a group of people, appeals to an even more specific subgroup of that people, meanwhile captures the attention of mass audiences despite the filmmakers concern of their viewing. A propaganda documentary influences viewers in a precise way that convinces them to react based on subjective content. Michael Moore’s film, Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) takes on the roots and effects of the Bush administration, the Iraq War, and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from a liberal perspective.

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Moore’s film was distributed internationally, made for the American people, but supports the left-view American view. Leni Riefenstahl’s motion picture Triumph of the Will (1935) was exposed to Nazi Germany, appealed to join young well-able men to join the Nazi army, and ultimately fed the idolization of Adolf Hitler. Moore and Riefenstahl have incredibly divergent party allegiances, these documentary filmmakers use opposing cinematic strategies to appeal to the individual citizen’s best interests, but ultimately ignite a sense of patriotism in their citizens.

Commonly characterized as the sophisticated and intellectual film genre, the informative undertone of documentary filmmaking–no matter how artistically decorated–should raise suspicions as to why this specific documentary has been made. Leni Riefenstahl was commissioned by the Nazi Germany government to create Triumph of the Will during a time where Nazi leaders were concerned for the public image of Nazism and Adolf Hitler. The film was intended to show Adolf Hitler as a heroic figure and savior to Germany during this time period. Triumph of the Will was deemed a commercial production to distance the Nazi party’s involvement in the project, the Nuremberg rally was used to project an invincible Nazi government and military to deject their enemies and ignite supporters of Nazism.

Riefenstahl refrained from common documentary contrasting to explicitly show more and more shots of the flourishing Nazi Germany, in particular during the annual Nuremberg rally in 1934, instead she built powerful image upon powerful image. This film, being a government sponsored film in support of the present regime, did not seek to provoke empathy as do some documentaries, Hitler and the Nazi soldiers were portrayed to be flawless characters. Everything about this films production and execution centers around power and wealth. The streams of crowds, affluent city, Christian church, multiple cameras in rally, etc. This film had a singular message, which was for everyone to know the wealth, power, and success of Nazi Germany, it was a vision of what every German citizen should make of the Nazi regime.

The film techniques such as tracking shots, low angle shots, and aerial shots used were not unique to cinema at the time but the film’s complex production and use of scope uniquely reflected the unyielding superiority of Nazi’s agenda for power and wealth.

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